32 responses

  1. Kung Fu Zu
    Kung Fu Zu
    December 29, 2015

    So who made “sloth” a Deadly Sin anyway

    I suspect sloth became a deadly sin once monastic orders became well established.

    In those days sloth did not pay as if you did not work, you generally did not eat. Even beggars had to get out and grab their corner or work the streets. But in monastic orders one was taken care of for stepping away from the world.

    Although a monk’s day was organized to the hour, I can just imagine some friar Tuck type nodding off during Matins or leaning on his hoe while gardening. Monks had food, shelter and reading material as well. So I can see slothful people slipping into the system quite easily.

    I might look into this further one day, if I feel like it.

    Reply

    • Brad Nelson
      Brad Nelson
      December 29, 2015

      You’re bleeding steam from your essay, Mr. Kung. Or perhaps gathering ideas. If you’re not too slothful, I expect to see it in the next day or so.

      No doubt there is a lot of psychological projection in these various sins. I could certainly see a contemplative monk (who does often indeed work hard, as you say) feeling defensive about his relative leisure and preaching to others about the need to avoid sloth — much like the Marxist Pope we have now, who is head of a very rich Vatican, goes on and on about the need to destroy capitalism and replace it with socialism, an all for “the poor,” of course.

      Still, I’m sticking with the nagging wife theory for the origin of this sin.

      Reply

  2. Tom Riehl
    Tom Riehl
    December 29, 2015

    I’m a bit confused by the first two entries. Can somebody please define sloth? Words matter, so it’s not synonymous with lazy or procrastinator. I’m good at the last two, which are common, but sloth? To be a “deadly” it must be a grievous fault, not a minor character flaw.
    Swinging your arms around wildly for no good reason is a waste of energy and actually stupid. When the end of your arm connects with your neighbor’s nose, the denotation changes drastically. Such is sloth?

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    • Brad Nelson
      Brad Nelson
      December 29, 2015

      Tom, it sounds as if you have some thoughts on the subject. How about submitting and essay and I’ll post it with the rest?

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      • Tom Riehl
        Tom Riehl
        December 29, 2015

        Thanks for the invite, Brad. I’ll try and give it some thought, but I’m awfully busy listening to my new Atmos speakers, purchased with the fruits of others’ labors.

        Seriously, I’ll gather my thoughts…

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      • Brad Nelson
        Brad Nelson
        December 29, 2015

        I hadn’t heard of Atmost speakers before, Tom. Note that we’ve got a much under-used Tech Blog here. If you want to do a review of them, by all means. My nephews bought me a small belt-clippable Bluetooth speaker. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it, but it’s kind of cool.

        Reply

    • Brad Nelson
      Brad Nelson
      December 31, 2015

      Can somebody please define sloth? Words matter, so it’s not synonymous with lazy or procrastinator.

      Anyway, I haven’t seen your essay on this yet. 🙂 So I wanted to comment on it.

      Yes, words mean things. One of the fun aspects of doing The Seven Deadly Sins is eking out the meaning…or what we individually suppose that meaning may be.

      As far as sloth not being synonymous with procrastination, let’s go to some dictionary definitions. I’ll use the one on my Mac:

      Sloth: reluctance to work or make an effort; laziness
      Procrastinate: delay or postpone action; put off doing something

      Would it be fair to say that the road to Slothdom is procrastination? We can ask where the reluctance to work comes from. Certainly if someone is paying the bills for you in order not to work (Welfare), that’s one avenue. Some people just feel emotionally put upon when asked to do their fare share. I think it is deeply embedded into human nature to mooch off of other people if given even a small window of opportunity. The road to slothdom is a natural road, perhaps broken for many people only by hunger and the need to come in out of the rain.

      Many consider our Western-style Yankee-ingenuity-based, Protestant-work-ethic-based way of life to be unnecessarily strident. I disagree. I think the costs of hard work are more than made up for by the civilization we have built, and all the cool stuff we have invented to go with it. But it’s something to keep in mind.

      And it’s funny that we live in a highly mechanized society full of labor-saving devices. We have more leisure time than ever before, and the work we do is usually not the old-style back-breaking labor of old. If we want to dig a hole, we are more apt to use hydraulics or other power tools rather than break our backs with a shovel. Many people therefore work their butts off in jobs that are in regards to making labor-saving devices. Ironic, I suppose.

      I’m also of the mind that words mean things. But words can be used as weapons in at least two ways. One is the redefinition of words (a specialty of the Left). And the other is using them for personal benefit, whether using a narrow definition or just as a club. Is it fair to call someone slothful or lazy just because they’re not doing what *you* would like them to do?

      And let’s not forget the power of doing nothing. It is a conservative truth that we’d all be better off if Congress did absolutely nothing every time they were in session. The same with the president and his executive orders. Oh, if only a bitt of reluctance or laziness should infect our Feral government.

      Reply

  3. Brad Nelson
    Brad Nelson
    December 29, 2015

    That’s a good point about welfare engendering sloth, Timothy. Sure sounds a lot better when you call it “social justice” though.

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    • Timothy Lane
      December 29, 2015

      Liberals don’t want to admit that their welfare policies encourage sloth (even though prior liberals such as FDR and Thomas Dewey were openly concerned about it) just as they will never admit that their economic politics is based on blatant appeals to envy and covetousness.

      Reply

      • Brad Nelson
        Brad Nelson
        December 29, 2015

        No, they won’t admit that. But their welfare policies do at least two vital things: Bolster their sense of moral superiority and secure a reliable voting bloc. If that assessment seams overly cynical to anyone, I would suggest you haven’t been paying much attention.

        Reply

  4. Brad Nelson
    Brad Nelson
    December 29, 2015

    This is the last of the deadly sins…unless someone wants to add an eighth. (Texting? Tattoos? Piercing?) This was free-form style. There were no notices sent out to participants, it was come one, come all (and keep your eyes on the front page).

    I prefer things to be a little playful. Smart but nor overly formal. I think we achieved that. I don’t like when things get too stuffy. With this symposium it was actually run by Timothy. After the first one, he nudged to start the second…and then whenever I would receive his essay for the subsequent ones, that’s when the ball got rolling.

    A lot of people don’t want to deal with places such as this that don’t draw neatly between the lines. But I assure you, no one will get kicked out for telling an old Bob Hope joke. (“How to you make a fruit cordial?” “Be nice to him.”)

    Speaking of Bob Hope, here’s an appropriate one-liner of his: “It’s so cold here in Washington, D.C., that politicians have their hands in their own pockets.”

    Reply

  5. Lucia
    December 30, 2015

    Sloth is deadly because it’s motivated by selfishness like all the other deadly sins. A lazy person doesn’t care about how their inaction affects others, it’s their life after all, they say, not caring that no man is an island. Laziness at it’s zenith leads to disease, hunger, irresponsibility, and parasitic living. A lazy person becomes a burden to their community, and brings shame to their family. It creates an inertia of will that requires an extreme amount of energy and conviction to overcome which is why it seldom is. It’s too hard to change, goes the excuse, so the decline continues. A little laziness is natural in the human condition but sloth is destructive.

    Reply

    • Timothy Lane
      December 30, 2015

      An excellent explanation. I will admit that house-cleaning is something I tend to think about in terms of “Why bother? It’ll get dirty again so quickly.” Eventually something needs to be done.

      Reply

    • Brad Nelson
      Brad Nelson
      December 30, 2015

      I think my own sloth is motivated by a lack of desire to do the task at hand. But life is full of such tasks. Yes, we need to be little butterflies at times, find our place in life where work is more of a pleasure than a chore, and burst out of our cocoons into lovely and fulfilling “self-actualization” and find that life of unicorns and rainbows. But life is still full of stuff you just have to do. Al Swearengen of the series, Deadwood, (played wonderfully by Ian McShane) once said (the language has been cleaned up…this is Deadwood, after all):

      In life, you have to do a lot of things you don’t effin want to do. Many times, that’s what the eff life is… one vile effin task after another.

      I think a lot of sloth is the result of nancy-boys and other entitlement-minded people who expect life (for whatever reason) to be handed to them on a silver platter. Well, it doesn’t usually work that way.

      But, of course, as Dennis Prager notes, it is an inherent component of human nature to try to get something for nothing. We will sloth our way to “free stuff” if allowed. We will mooch and let others do our work if allowed. Sure, there are those individuals, and probably plenty of them still, who just couldn’t live with themselves as a leech. But most could. The biggest enabler of sloth is Big Government, no matter that they call it “compassion” or “social justice.”

      Reply

  6. Brad Nelson
    Brad Nelson
    December 30, 2015

    FYI: I just added Jon’s essay. Although I don’t think it was written specifically with this symposium in mind, it’s a perfect fit. Thanks, Jon. And anyone else with an essay in mind, just submit it. Click that blue graphic on the top right of the site that says “Submit an Article.”

    Reply

    • Timothy Lane
      December 30, 2015

      An interesting essay indeed. I will note that although I’m obese and sedentary, I don’t consume alcohol, tobacco, or cocaine — and for that matter, I prefer potato chips to corn chips (though we buy low-sodium chips these days).

      incidentally, a minor example of the consequences of moral hazard plays a key role in Hal Clement’s brilliant novel Needle.

      Reply

  7. Brad Nelson
    Brad Nelson
    January 1, 2016

    Tim, that’s another excellent addition to the slothful thread. I’m sure when Deana sloughs off her sloth, she may one-better us all. But until then, this is a very good read.

    And the reason I’m doing so is that I happen to think there’s nothing all that wrong with being lazy, but that it’s a matter of perspective and context when describing where and when it actually exists.

    I quite agree. I particular liked the following as your explanation:

    So I think one can be lazy, but lazy in a responsible way. As I indicated earlier, there is always something that fills one’s time when one is not working. Most seek personal pleasure whether it’s in their hobbies or other recreational activities, but there’s also the quiet time of doing nothing that can restore the soul such as reading, writing and reflecting.

    Indeed, as you mentioned, the downside of our (once) Protestant work ethic culture is freneticism — the stress, anxiety, and burn-out that can come from making materialism an idol. We certainly can benefit from some quiet time.

    And one should stress (in the other sense) that I don’t know that the Amish burn out on work. It would seem to be one of their pleasures. I don’t think it’s work, per se, that people are burning out on but, as you said, it’s perhaps the FOMO factor (fear of missing out). When you try to have it all, and it’s inevitable that people see they can’t and are missing out (if only because a friend is in Cabo at the moment and they are not), our work might become less a thing unto itself and more of a complete means to an end — mere drudgery.

    I also like your tying in of drug use. One could see drug use historically as an escape from the overwhelming pains of reality…and then addiction takes hold and drug use becomes a thing feeding itself. Nowadays I wouldn’t be surprised that drug use is simply an expression of hedonism. Why go to all the pains it takes to purchase and plan a trip to Cabo when you can go to Cabo in your mind? As you said:

    The drug epidemic throughout the world is the apotheosis of sloth. By doing only what feels good with all of one’s time can only lead to one thing in all of its manifestations, and that is hedonism.

    Reply

    • Timothy Lane
      January 1, 2016

      I suspect people burn out on work when it’s something they dislike. A job you like is hardly work at all; indeed, I recall Mark Twain arguing that only manual labor counted as work. (I’m sure many an accountant would disagree, most notably Leo Bloom of The Producers.)

      Southern culture is traditionally less frenetic than damyankee culture (sorry, but after all I am a Southerner), though this is probably class-based since farmers by necessity are very hard-working — unless they have slaves to do that for them.

      Note that my blogging time (and for that matter reading time) is available because I’m retired (early, but congestive heart failure will do that to you).

      Reply

      • Kung Fu Zu
        Kung Fu Zu
        January 1, 2016

        Leo Bloom of The Producers

        Thanks for my first laugh of 2016.

        “The Producers” is one of the two funniest movies I have ever seen. I can’t recall the other. I think it had to do with a 6’4″ rabbit and a town lush.

        Reply

      • Timothy Lane
        January 1, 2016

        As competitors for that title, I would note Cat Ballou, the original Bedazzled, and Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Monty Python and the Holy Grail is only in that category for a half-hour or so). I’m sure I could think of others given time.

        Reply

      • Kung Fu Zu
        Kung Fu Zu
        January 1, 2016

        Don’t forget the pooka!

        Reply

  8. Timothy Lane
    January 2, 2016

    I like Pat’s comparison of welfare to the Seven Deadly Sins in combination. I also like his point that welfare serves as a trap, which in fact has been one of my concerns for a few decades now. It can be so difficult to get off welfare, partly because it’s so easy to stay on. But the welfarite (leaving aside the cheats) never really gets anywhere. Of course, neither do most of the rest of us, but at least we have a chance.

    Reply

  9. Anniel
    January 7, 2016

    That article on sloth by Anonymous has been kicking around in my head all morning. I have thought of the matter of weight a lot. I was a tiny child, all of my relatives criticized my being so small. I never gained much weight, UNTIL MY THYROID WAS REMOVED. Since then even the doctors have been awful to me, you must lose 10, 20 or more pounds. If you mention “glandular problems” everyone rolls their eyes and gives some version of “Likely story.”

    If you add mental problems that create difficulties that keep one from performing the most basic of tasks and you know you are being criticized, what does that do to you?

    I, for one, would like to thank Anonymous for delving this deeply into his personal issues. It was brave indeed.

    Reply

    • Timothy Lane
      January 7, 2016

      I seem to recall my sister being tested and having a low-thyroid problem a few years back. I’ve wondered what my own situation would be given that I have to be careful about sodium, and iodized salt is usually the main dietary source of iodine. Of course, my problem with obesity long predates any recent chemical disturbances, though congestive heart failure worsened it until I was put on diuretics (and low sodium).

      Reply

    • Brad Nelson
      Brad Nelson
      January 7, 2016

      Here here. The line between what is purely physical and what is behavioral/moral is often a blurry one. At one time they burned witches who might simply have been wholly and truly mentally ill (schizophrenic, whatever).

      The pendulum has swung and now *everything* is a physical ailment and so people continue to stuff their faces with Cheetos and talk about their “glandular problem.” But clearly there are people with glandular problems.

      So we do what we do here and get beyond the dishonest, beyond the simplistic, and into the sometimes messy and complicated real.

      Reply

  10. Brad Nelson
    Brad Nelson
    January 8, 2016

    Second, I’m crazy. I don’t hear voices, but I do suffer from debilitating mental problems.

    In my experience, Mr. (or Mrs.) Anonymous, we’re all a little crazy. And the craziest ones of all are the ones who don’t know this. That you are aware of some of your own maladies seems to me to be a very healthy sign.

    and fully aware of when I’m being irrational, but the fear and dread associated with doing certain routine things is overwhelming.

    You are not alone in this regard. I suffer a little from that, depending upon what “routine thing” one may be talking about. And I certainly have no desire to diminish the severity of your fear and dread. But in my experience, all people have comfort zones. It’s the damnedest thing. As my younger brother was telling me yesterday, his wife can face down any bureaucrat, any red-tape, any baloney from supposed “superiors.” But she freaks out if there is a spider in the bathtub. And I’m not making that up.

    Some people have small comfort zones, and I think that’s what you’re talking about. But I think it might surprise you how many people have fairly large discomfort zones.

    My family on my mother’s side were all pretty large. I don’t know why. In their youth they were all lumberjacks who later became soldiers in WWII. But as they aged, they drank and ate and that cycle became their way of life.

    Clearly, there is more going on with a person’s weight than a poorly developed sense of personal responsibility. The ready availability of food without slaving hours in the kitchen, and the change of employment, and even personal chores, from physical to cerebral, are obvious factors.

    I quite agree with that. Mankind likely has spent most of its history expending enormous amounts of time and energy just to get enough to eat. Now it is the reverse. We have to work hard not to get fat.

    I’ve always wondered how the Thomas Edisons and Oprahs and Trumps of the world did what they did.

    I have no friggin’ clue either. Add Winston Churchill in that mix although the popular perception of him is as a rather plump man in his later years. Even so, Mr. Kung would tell you that his weight did not reflect the level of his activity. He likely was doing more at 80 than most 20 year olds do…not in terms of hard physical labor, for sure, but in terms of doing things, thinking things, arranging things, being involved, and starting and finishing all sorts of projects.

    The point is that we are all different. One man’s sloth is another man’s daily struggle. While we are not completely at the mercy of our genes and our surroundings, they are big factors. I could never be a ballerina, or a pro football player.

    I think that’s another great point. That said, it’s become obvious that our culture has become bloated and fat. I don’t think even 3% of these people are suffering from mental health or glandular issues. I think they simply eat too much.

    But a good point you bring up regarding the perception of “fat = sloth.” Clearly that is quite variable. You can be fat and still be doing a lot of stuff. Not climbing mountains, perhaps, but still doing a lot of stuff, including one’s job and taking care of one’s kids.

    The message I take away from this (having often been a member of the Slobocracy) is to lose some weight if you can (combined with better nutrition). You’ll feel better. You’ll be healthier. What one then shouldn’t do is expect any kind of Nirvana, temporary or otherwise. And I think people who obsess over weight loss perhaps are putting more expectations into that weight loss than they should. You can be happy and productive whether you are fat or thin.

    Anyway, thank you Mr. (or Mrs.?) Anonymous for the essay. You’ve likely been following (I hope) some of my own thoughts here on this site. And you definitely do not sound like Charles Krauthammer. You have sensitively and boldly brought to us a personal story told with eloquence and honesty. I’d prefer to never hear about our evil president again and have little but essays like this (and movie and book reviews).

    Good luck with your psychological stuff. Life can be a bitch. And you note that it comes and goes. But, boy, when it goes you sound saner than 99% of the people out there.

    Reply

    • Timothy Lane
      January 8, 2016

      There is one of those nice Churchill anecdotes involving a meeting with Bernard Law Montgomery. The latter boasted that he didn’t drink or smoke and was 100% fit. Churchill admitted that he overindulged in food, tobacco, and alcohol — but insisted he was 200% fit. I wouldn’t rule it out.

      Reply

      • Brad Nelson
        Brad Nelson
        January 8, 2016

        I don’t doubt for a minute that Churchill might have been 200% fit as defined by “being active, doing meaningful things, accomplishing meaningful things.” The modern mindset tends to fixate on whatever the latest fad for “fit” is defined as. They’re now on this stupid “gluten” fad now. Before it was low-carb (and I know people who then justified eating a lot of fried bacon as part of a low-carb diet).

        Churchill (and others like him) give weight to the idea that those actually living life robustly, thoughtfully, and productively are the most fit. He happened to combine longevity with that fitness.

        Reply

    • Kung Fu Zu
      Kung Fu Zu
      January 8, 2016

      Churchill was a dynamo. He had so many irons in the fire, at any one time, that he could have branded a herd with them.

      He was a very good painter into his later years,

      Reply

  11. Timothy Lane
    January 13, 2016

    The blog site Personal Liberty has an interesting article by John Myers linking Obama to the 7 Deadly Sins as a cause for obamaitis. (Actually, an “itis” usually refers to a site being inflamed — e.g., appendicitis, meningitis, bronchitis. An “osis” or “asis” can refer either to the cause of the infection — e.g., brucellosis, shigellosis, filariasis — or the nature of an illness — e.g., elephantiasis.) He errs in calling Obama a Muslim, though this would be accurate if he’s speaking culturally rather than theologically. The link is:

    http://personalliberty.com/obamas-7-deadly-sins/

    Reply

  12. Kung Fu Zu
    Kung Fu Zu
    July 9, 2016

    For any Hieronymus Bosch fans, here is his painting of the “Seven Deadly Sins” which is on display in the Prado in Spain during a special exhibit of the artist’s works.

    http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/kunst/ausstellung-im-prado-der-die-welt-verraetselt-14327325/die-tafel-mit-den-sieben-14329050.html

    Reply

    • Timothy Lane
      July 9, 2016

      My book of 1000 Masterpieces of European Painting from 1300 to 1850 includes that one. I also have a book of Bosch art, which no doubt includes it as well.

      Reply

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